Gold Sellers' Alley in the eastern part of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is the site of an unusual gold and currency market. A group of men gather in a boisterous huddle waving their arms and shouting while holding mobiles phones. The traders conduct their business in public, relaying transactions and live market prices by phone to exchanges offices and banks. The traders are unlicensed and unregulated with deals underwritten only by trust. A modern market with old fashioned traditions.
For hundreds of years the Grand Bazaar has hosted all sorts of traders but these modern day currency traders do not sit behind computer screens in comfortable offices. They are a scruffy bunch of market makers wearing jeans, leather jackets and woollen hats on cold days.
This alley market is thriving and the huge volume of business conducted is over $20 million per day. During times of economic crisis the volume increases dramatically if the Turkish Lira is weak when investors move into US dollars or Sterling to hedge their options and liabilities. This is a real and dynamic market setting prices for around twenty international currencies.